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Working with the TUC to face the skills challenges ahead

by Graham Hasting-Evans, NOCN Group Managing Director

NOCN is now one of the larger national Awarding Organisations for vocational and technical qualifications. The group is made up of leading learning and development organisations specialising in areas including the design and delivery of vocational qualifications, apprenticeship End Point Assessment, Access to Higher Education, construction sector skills and international education and skills consultancy.

Our relationship with the TUC and Unionlearn is well established. For many years we have supported them to qualify representatives in a wide range of topics, such as being a Trade Union Representative, employment law, equalities, and health and safety. We have also run pilot courses for Union Representatives on the management of productivity. In addition, the TUC has a place on our Board and we considerably benefit from their insight, ideas and support.

As someone who has been a Union Rep and officer, as well as a senior manager, I believe skills and learning are essential for us all. We face enormous challenges to our economy and places of work, not just BREXIT, but the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Revolution and the 30% gap in UK productivity.

For this reason, NOCN, working in partnership with the Learning and Work Institute has published a report on the National Skills Strategy. The report outlines ideas that the Government should adopt to face the challenges of low skills, low productivity and low pay against the background of the AI revolution.

Our ideas build upon the education and skills reforms to date and the joint initiative which the TUC has launched with the Government and the CBI for the National Retraining Scheme.

If we are going to face what is arguably the biggest skills challenge of a lifetime, the Unions have an essential part to play in improving national productivity. This means that Union Representatives need to be prepared to respond with the necessary skills for this new world of work.

For example, we can see an increasing need for more training for Trade Union representatives on productivity and the implications of AI for workers.

As they say, knowledge is power. Together, we are better placed to face the challenges coming our way from a strong position and learning new skills or studying for a qualification can provide the framework for that. This way, challenges can become opportunities: to improve pay, conditions, and prospects, rather than threats to employment, redundancy or pay cuts.

BREXIT, AI and low productivity may seem abstract or distant but this ‘triple whammy’ will have an impact whether we like it or not. It is up to us how we plan and respond.

In all of this, NOCN is delighted to continue to support the TUC and union learners to face the challenges ahead because together, we can create a fair and equitable society for all.

Download a copy of our 'Skills to Drive a Productive Society' report.